Early in the fourth quarter, the Detroit Lions had a chance to take a 7-point lead on the Pittsburgh Steelers with a 27-yard field goal attempt. The Lions were faced with fourth-and-5 at the Pittsburgh 10-yard line, so it was no surprise when David Akers and company made their way on to the field.
What was quite surprising was that the Lions didn't actually kick the field goal. Instead, Jim Schwartz opted for a fake. Holder Sam Martin took off to the right side, and there seemed to be a hole. It wasn't open for long, though, and Martin was hit hard and fumbled the ball away to the Steelers. He wouldn't have had a first down anyway, and the Steelers fell on the ball at their own 3-yard line.
Why exactly did Schwartz decide to fake that field goal? Here's what he had to say after the game:
Schwartz: "We were doing what we thought was best to win the game … and when I say ‘we’, I mean ‘me’." #DETvsPIT— Detroit Lions (@DetroitLionsNFL) November 17, 2013
Schwartz: "You can say whatever you want about me but don't say I'm scared."— Tim Twentyman (@ttwentyman) November 17, 2013
When asked if he regretted the decision given how it turned out, Schwartz said the following (via @DetroitLionsNFL): "I don’t regret anything that happens in a football game… they made the play, we didn’t." In other words, he stands behind his decision; the execution was simply lacking, and the Steelers did a good job of defending the fake. His players seemed to agree with that stance, as evidenced by Martin repeatedly saying "it was a good call" after the game, per MLive. Martin also echoed the notion that the Steelers simply made a good play.
After the fake failed, the Lions allowed the Steelers to go 97 yards en route to the go-ahead touchdown. Basically, from the fake field goal on, the Steelers controlled this game. With that in mind, this decision looks even worse, but if the defense had been able to actually get off the field or if the offense had bounced back to score in another comeback, the fake field goal would simply be a minor storyline. The point is the fake field goal did not cause the Lions to lose this game.
With all that said, it really was a questionable call. It's true that we would be praising Schwartz if Martin had somehow slipped through the defense and held on for a first down, but that didn't happen. Being aggressive is certainly a good thing in my mind, but I just don't get why Schwartz thought it was a good idea to pick that situation for a fake field goal. The field was awful, it was raining quite a bit and with a very makeable attempt, simply kicking a field goal would have made it a 7-point game. That just seemed like a really bad time to go for a fake. Perhaps simply kicking the field goal wouldn't have changed anything about the result of Sunday's game, but I do think it would have given the Lions a better chance of holding on for the win.